Catholics to meet at Basilica following National Black Catholic Congress

| July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

Catholics from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who attended the 12th National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando July 6-9 include, from left, Claudette Parris of St. Raphael in Crystal, Lynette Graham of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, Cedric Waterman of St. Peter Claver, Father Erich Rutten, pastor of St. Peter Claver, Mary Syfax Noble of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Maya Ignabode of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center, Cynthia Bailey Manns of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis, Andrena Guines of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, David Wentzlaff of St. Peter Claver, Carol Burton of the Basilica, Earl Parris of St. Raphael, Hazel Waterman of St. Peter Claver and Ben Osemenam (crouching) of St. Olaf in Minneapolis. Courtesy Father Erich Rutten

Twenty-six people from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis were among more than 2,000 who attended the 12th National Black Catholic Congress July 6-9 in Orlando. Clergy, lay and religious speakers addressed a variety of topics and concerns facing black communities and families, while urging participants to take an active, enthusiastic role in living out the Gospel.

Maya Ignabode, who volunteers with youths and music ministry at St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center, said she returned from the congress with a better understanding of her role in serving the entire Catholic community.

Ignabode, 32, said she attended the congress because she loves to be involved and wanted to learn more so that she can do more. She plans to start conversations about relationship building, especially with other young adults — who she said are the Church’s next leaders — and the archdiocese.

“The Church needs us right now,” said Ignabode, who emigrated from the Central African Republic in 2005. “The Church is fighting to keep people. We try not to be political, but [politics] entail some of our values. If we don’t step in, then we’ll lose all of our values.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, center, celebrates the July 9 closing Mass of the 12th National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando, Fla. CNS/Courtesy Nancy Jo Davis, National Black Catholic Congress

Father Erich Rutten, pastor of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, said the congress was “invigorating” for the black Catholic community and provided the opportunity to strategize.

“Black Catholics are a double minority,” Father Rutten said. “They’re a minority among the black community in the fact that they’re Catholic, and they’re a minority in the Catholic community in that they’re black. And so, it’s good for them to be together and to share their concerns and unite so that they can have their voices heard.”

Catholics in the archdiocese are invited to discuss implementing ideas that local participants took from the congress. Black Catholic Congress: Day of Reflection will take place 9:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 5 at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

The roots of the Black Catholic Congress stem from 1889 with layman and journalist Daniel Rudd, who brought together 100 black Catholic men to exchange and discuss questions affecting their race for not just Catholic blacks, but blacks across the country, and unite for a course of action while standing behind the Catholic Church and its values. The group met with President Grover Cleveland during its first congress.

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, offered the opening keynote address that focused directly on the theme of the congress taken from the prophet Micah — “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: Act justly, love goodness and walk humbly with your God.”

Father Rutten said Cardinal Turkson’s presence, as well as that of Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, was “extraordinary.”

“It tells you that we’re really connected to not only the American Catholic Church, but also the universal Catholic Church,” he noted. “To have the papal nuncio there really speaks volumes.

“Part of the reason of the congress is to work institutionally to open some of those doors and have black Catholics be represented in the Catholic Church,” Father Rutten continued.

At the next congress, which occurs every five years, Ignabode wants to bring more people to hear messages of social justice and servant leadership.

“It’s energizing to know that you’re valued,” she said, “and to bring others into that. We have to learn how to be a black Catholic in the U.S.”

— Catholic News Service contributed to this story

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